Florida’s First Lady announces expansion of Hope Ambassadors Clubs

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Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis announced Friday, Dec. 17, that 100 Florida schools have started Hope Ambassadors Clubs in 39 school districts. This represents a 300% increase from the 25 Florida schools that participated during the 2020-21 school year.

In addition, the First Lady announced a donation of $100,000 from Simply Healthcare Plans Inc. (Simply) to benefit the statewide Hope for Healing Initiative, which will help support Florida’s Hope Ambassadors.

Hope Ambassadors is a partnership between the state Department of Education, Volunteer Florida and now 100 middle and high schools. The program was launched by the First Lady in December 2019 with the goal of creating a setting where students can volunteer, mentor their peers and help foster kind and compassionate environments.

In the pilot program, which began in the 2020-21 school year, 25 schools started Hope Ambassadors clubs, with more than 300 student participants.

“As the First Lady, I have made it a priority to travel throughout Florida to learn more about our schools, students and families,” said Casey DeSantis. “Through my visits with parents in the state and as the mother of three young children myself, I know that parents need and want a safe, healthy and happy learning environment for their children. It is heartwarming to see the Hope Ambassadors program grow so quickly to meet the needs of our faculty, students and parents. These new clubs will create positive settings for children to volunteer, mentor their peers and help foster kindness. I am overjoyed by the drive and compassion of Florida’s youth.”

Students may seek the guidance of a teacher or counselor to help start a Hope Ambassadors Club at their school and participate in community projects, service events and after-school activities that show how simple acts of kindness can change lives – both peer mentors and those they would be helping.

Each participating school receives $500 to develop and launch a Hope Ambassadors Club.

“Throughout the First Lady’s travels for her Hope for Healing Initiative a resounding theme came up time and again – our students are eager and able to support each other and take ownership of elevating the mental health of their peers,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “Hope Ambassadors does exactly that, empowering our students to lend a helping hand, to lend a voice, to lend an ear to each other and it’s creating a sustainable best practice that is far better than any government intervention. Hope Ambassadors is creating a great culture in our schools, and I’m grateful to see the initiative now reaching 100 middle and high schools.”

“The team at Volunteer Florida is looking forward to working with each of these 100 clubs and supporting them as they lift up their peers, their schools and their communities,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Corey Simon. “Volunteerism is a core component of the Hope Ambassadors Initiative, and I’ve seen firsthand the tremendous impact it can have on a community. Together, we’ll continue to equip these students to look out for and empower each other for generations to come.”

Simply’s donation will help support the development of Hope Ambassadors Clubs in schools and to create lesson plans for teachers on resiliency and substance use and abuse.

“At Simply, we’re focused on ditching the stigma tied to mental health and ensuring our youth receive the proper resources and care to strengthen their mental health,” said Holly Prince, Florida plan president of Simply. “We’re excited to team up with First Lady Casey DeSantis to deliver support in a meaningful way.”

For a list of the Hope Ambassadors Clubs or to learn more, go to fldoe.org/hopeambassadors.

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